At COP 11, government negotiators will be asked to consider bringing a new and emerging area of industrial activity under the oversight of the Convention on Biological Diversity. Synthetic Biology is a burgeoning technological field that builds artificial genetic systems and programmes lifeforms for industrial use. It urgently requires effective governance.
This briefing details ten key points to consider.
1. The Synthetic Biology industry is global, well financed and rapidly expanding with products already in the marketplace.
2. Synthetic Biology can be clearly defined.
3. Synthetic Biology differs from recombinant DNA technologies.
4. Synthetic Biology is controversial.
5. Synthetic Biology has not yet come under any national or global oversight.
6. Synthetic Biology governance is best dealt with under the CBD and its protocols.
7. Synthetic Biology threatens the conservation of biological diversity.
8. Synthetic Biology threatens the sustainable use of biological diversity.
9. Synthetic Biology threatens the equitable sharing of benefits arising from genetic resources.
10. Synthetic Biology activities can be brought under an enforceable moratorium on environmental release and commercial use.